Fairfax County adopts Heads Up Football program

VIENNA, Va. (WJLA) - Fairfax County is leading the nation in protecting young football players from concussions. The new efforts are part of a national program and Fairfax County is the first to get things moving.

Like any good coach, Jason Rowley is all about precision and performance.

“We want to stay competitive and keep competing in the playoffs,” he says.

But this year at Oakton High and the other 25 high schools in the county, there is added emphasis on competing safely, especially when it comes to preventing concussions.

“We’ve always been conscientious of players’ safety, we just have more information about it now," Rowley says.

Fairfax County is the first high school district in the country to adopt Heads Up Football, a youth football tackling safety program developed by USA Football, the youth outreach arm of the NFL.{ }

Heads Up Football is based on a style of tackling that puts emphasis on striking a blow with the shoulders instead of the head.

Bill Curran is leading the effort in Fairfax. He says that in the past so much of the focus has been on treating a player after a big hit.

“This is the first time we saw there was something we could do on the front end that makes the game safer and defines how we do things,” Curran says.

“It’s new this year but it feels like it’s already part of the program,” says Oakton{ }cornerback{ }Eric South.

South says{ }the program{ }hasn’t hurt the game at all and that it’s only made the players safer and smarter.

“You understand what you’re doing more. It's not just blindly running and hitting the guy with the football," he says.